Billy Crystal was born on March 14, 1947, in Long Beach, Long Island, the youngest of three sons of Jack and Helen Crystal. His father was a well-known concert promoter who founded Commodore Records and his mother was a homemaker. As a child, he was exposed to the top performers of the day, notably Billy Holiday, Pee Wee Russell and Eddie Condon who visited the Crystal household often. When he was fifteen years of age, his father died of a heart attack at the age of 54. This greatly instilled in him a sense of appreciation for both his father’s accomplishments and for his mother who kept the family together.
Even as a kid, Billy had a unique talent for making people laugh. Influenced by Alan King, Ernie Kovacs and Jonathan Winters, he started performing stand-up comedy at the age of sixteen. Despite his enthusiasm, his real dream was to play professional baseball like his idol, Mickey Mantle. While at Long Beach High School, he played second base and was varsity captain in his senior year. He earned a baseball scholarship from Marshall University in West Virginia, which he accepted. The baseball program was suspended in his freshman year, and he moved back to New York, enrolling at Nassau Community College and majoring in theater. There in 1970, he met his future wife, dancer Janice Goldfinger. They married in 1970 and have two daughters.
He attended New York university School of Film and studied under Martin Scorsese. He formed his own improv group “3s Company,” and performed as a stand-up comic, becoming known for his impression of Howard Cosell interviewing Mohammad Ali. He got his big break in 1977 on the controversial television sitcom, “Soap.” After the show ended in 1981, he continued to do stand-up comedy and made many appearances on television variety shows, notably “Saturday Night Live. He landed parts in many feature length films as well, including “Running Scared” (1986), “Throw Momma From the Train” (1987), “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) and “City Slickers” (1991).
Billy Crystal continues to be a big box office draw and his career seems to know no bounds.
Keep em’ laughing, Billy. We love you!
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